(HockeyStL) -- There’s no rest for the wicked or the St. Louis Blues it seems. The second half of the Blues’ NHL season kicks-off with a bang Wednesday night against the Vancouver Canucks. Their second game doesn’t get any easier as the team heads down to Anaheim to play the first place Ducks.
“We have a very difficult schedule, six of our next seven games on the road,” said Blues GM Doug Armstrong, “And the guys did a lot of great work to put themselves ahead of Chicago [Blackhawks] statistically and we have to stay there.”
The Blues are tied atop the Central Division with the Blackhawks at 84 points with 3 less games played and the Blues are only 3 points back from the Ducks. Yet, the Note doesn’t have any room to falter after having 9 players in the Olympics and a 10 day break.
“We can’t come stumbling out,” Armstrong said, “The NHL is back up and running. If we’re a good team, we have to be ready to play.”
And no Blues player seems more ready for the coming push to the playoffs than defenseman Alex Pietrangelo after having just won the gold medal with Team Canada alongside teammate and line-mate Jay Bouwmeester and Coach Ken Hitchcock. Pietrangelo even had a special message for Hitchcock after winning the gold medal game.
“I saw Hitch on the ice and I said, ‘One championship down, one to go,’” said Pietrangelo, “Our goal is to win here in St. Louis.”
Hitchcock believes the Olympic experience will benefit the Blues quest for the Stanley Cup.
“I think that experience under pressure is the biggest help,” Hitchcock said, “It’s like playing every game as a game 7.”
But the first step to winning Wednesday night’s game against the Canucks may be the most simple – the Blues need to sleep.
“It’s been a long travel day,” said defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, “It’s important now that we get on track, into the right sleeping patterns and get ready for Wednesday night.”
However, there is one Blues Olympian that isn’t worried about his lack of down time.
“I’ll sleep tonight,” said Bouwmeester, “and be fine tomorrow.”